The hits just keep on coming from the mainline churches, which might have gotten together and cribbed from one another, so little difference is there in their statement on the Gaza flotilla. Here’s the General Secretary of the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society:
We grieve the loss of life and injuries sustained in what became a tragic confrontation between the forces of peace and those of armed aggression,” said Jim Winkler, chief executive of the United Methodist social justice agency.
Winkler called the Israeli troops’ boarding of the “Freedom Flotilla” in international waters more than just an act of high-seas piracy….
“The violence must stop on both sides,” he said. “The time for decisive action to impose a just, peaceful resolution has never been more evident that in this tragic assault on persons whose sole purpose was to achieve peace and bring aid to an oppressed populace.”
I don’t have to replay those videos of Turkish “peace activists” beating on Israeli soldiers as soon as they hit the deck of the Mavi Marmara, do I? The idea that the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation (IHH) goons who were planted among the genuine peace activists were there for the “sole purpose” of achieving peace is as willfully ignorant as anything I’ve ever heard out of a mainline official.
Episcopal Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefforts-Schori chimes in:
It is clear, however, that the deaths of civilians working to deliver humanitarian aid could not have happened absent the counterproductive Israeli blockade of Gaza.
Which is sort of like saying, “that armed robber would never have gotten killed if the police hadn’t had guns and shot him after he shot at them.”
Rather than tacitly backing an ill-advised blockade, the U.S. should work with its ally, Israel, to promote constructive new policies toward Gaza that serve the aims of peace and security. These should include continued efforts to halt violence, and credible long-term strategies to support Palestinian leaders who are actively working for peace.
Which is sort of like Rodney King plaintively asking why we can’t just all get along. Jefforts-Schori, like so many of her mainline colleagues, think that if they avert their eyes, and just ignore the the fact that Hamas doesn’t want peace with Israel, wants Israel to be destroyed, wants the Jews to die, and has done everything in its power to shut down and opposition to its murderous program in the Gaza Strip, it will cease being so.
Finally, Churches for Middle East Peace put out a press release:
The incident highlights the need for the United States to work for new, constructive Israeli policies toward Gaza that end the blockade and provide for the humanitarian need of those living there without diminishing Israel’s own security.
Well, that’s a nice thought. Any ideas on how to lift the blockade and still prevent the Iranians from trying to send arms to Hamas?
The Gaza flotilla incident also underlines the necessity of pressing without delay for a comprehensive agreement for peace between Israel and the Palestinians, beginning with the indirect talks now being brokered by the United States.
Another nice thought, one which, like Jefforts-Schori’s missive above, jumps from what is desirable to…what is desirable, without ever bothering to address the obstacles: continuing rocket fire from Gaza, Iranian attempts to arm Hamas, the latter’s refusal to consider even the possibility of recognizing Israel, etc.
This crisis and its tragic consequences must not be allowed to undermine peace efforts. The United States should seize this opportunity to push hard now for an end to the conflict between Israel and Palestinians. The Palestinian Authority has already said it plans to continue the proximity talks with Israel brokered by the United States. The United States should help Israel find better ways to enhance its security through negotiation and a comprehensive agreement for peace.
From CMEP’s lips to Hamas ears. And if wishes were beggars…
UPDATE: Stated Clerk Gradye Parsons of the PCUSA adds his two cents:
Our tradition, although not strictly pacifist, honors peaceful resistance, including nonviolent disobedience to unjust government policies and actions. We recognize that such initiatives as the flotillas to bring aid to the people of Gaza can be powerful instruments of such resistance. These actions sometimes incite violent responses, as in this case. The long-term success of this kind of resistance requires a nonviolent response on the part of the demonstrators, even when they are under attack.
As Jimi Hendrix said so eloquently at Woodstock, “Blah, blah, woof, woof.”
UPDATE: Then there’s this from Presbyterian Voices for Justice, who I assume approve of the stuff they put on their web site:
Yesterday’s Democracy Now features interviews with Adam Shapiro, founder of the International Solidarity Movement (whose wife was on the Flotilla), Amira Hass (the only Israeli journalist based in the Occupied Territories), Ali Abunimah (founder of Electronic Intifada) and Richard Falk (an international lawyer and UN special rapporteur for the Occupied Palestine Territories).
Hass talks about a number of protests in the West Bank (including one at which an American student and ISM volunteer was attacked by Israeli forces with tear gas canisters and lost her left eye as a result) that have called, among other things, for the PA to cease dealing with the Israeli government in either negotiations or any form of security cooperation.
Falk is especially clear that the official Israeli propaganda strategy of focusing attention on whether Israeli commandos were attacked and were acting in self-defense is morally misplaced: the Israeli government launched an unprovoked attack on an unarmed civilian vessel in international waters; the Israeli government was therefore the aggressors and its commandos had no right of self-defense. The civilians being attacked did have such a right.
So I’m guessing PVJ is now for the Palestinians cutting off negotiations wit Israel and…what? Just waiting for them to surrender, I suppose. And may I be perfectly clear: Richard Falk is a tool of the anti-Semitic left, as well as a “UN rapporteur.” But I repeat myself…